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Spotlight on hotspot for accidents

Safety enhancements for a busy intersection at the entrance to Martinborough that has been the scene of a number of crashes in recent years are finally being considered.

A serious crash last September at the intersection of Princess St and SH53 Kitchener St just before Martinborough Village highlighted risks at the site.

On that occasion, one person was flown to hospital in a serious condition, with two others receiving minor injuries after the two-vehicle crash.

South Wairarapa District Councillor Aidan Ellims thinks crash numbers at the spot are probably underreported.

“I recognise the intersection of Princess St SH53 and Kitchener St n has been a concern of residents for some time with the number of crashes and near misses occurring over the years,” he said.

On SH53, the intersection is on the main route into town from Wellington a few blocks before Martinborough Square, with its popular bars, restaurants and hotel. It is also on a traffic bypass on Princess St for heavy vehicles skirting the village centre.

Numbers obtained exclusively by the Times-Age from NZTA Waka Kotahi [NZTA] under the Official Information Act show of the 10 crashes at the intersection since 2014, eight have been since 2019.

There were no crashes in 2014, 2016, 2017 or 2018, but two in 2015. However, there have been crashes at the spot every year since 2019, although only the September 2023 incident resulted in serious injury.

Data shows one crash in 2019, 2021 and 2023, two in 2020, and three in 2022. Of the 10 overall, one resulted in serious injury, four minor injuries, and five were non-injury crashes.

“While the official statistics only record incidents police and other emergency services have attended, I believe there may have been more minor incidents that haven’t been reported to police as parties have exchanged details themselves and sorted the matter out with insurance companies,” Ellims said.

“Discussions have taken place with council staff who will look at measures that could be implemented on Princess St approaching the intersection to ensure traffic slows down and stops at the intersection, which is controlled by stop signs.”

Ellims said council staff will consider discussing the possibility of moving speed limit signs so traffic into town can slow down before the intersection with NZTA, which is the controlling roading authority on SH53.

“It will be good to look at what low-cost options can be implemented to make this intersection safer for our residents and ratepayers.”

Craig Bowyer, a Masterton district councillor and chair of the Wairarapa Automobile Association [AA], said the number of crashes highlights safety issues.

“The numbers definitely show this is an intersection of concern for Wairarapa and for Martinborough especially.

“There is something obviously wrong with this intersection, and NZTA needs to investigate it further.”

Bowyer said the issues at the site could be speed related.

“Speed reduction devices could be worth considering.

“Martinborough is the playground of people from Wellington and Wairarapa. We need to make sure people are kept safe. That intersection is a classic example of where city meets country. Speed bumps would be a good use of NZTA resources.”

The NZTA response was provided by Galina Mitchelhill, the organisation’s senior manager for research and analytics.

Mitchelhill said the 2023 and 2024 data is not yet complete in the system, but reflected what was recorded on April 3 this year.

NZTA maintains the system, which is updated once a traffic crash report is received from the police.

“Due to the nature of non-fatal crashes, it is believed that these are under-reported with the level of under-reporting decreasing with the increasing severity of the crash,” she said.

Traffic during level 4 lockdowns was greatly reduced, which had also reduced the number of road crashes, Mitchelhill said.

“Road movements under the orange and red levels of the traffic light system would also be reduced due to the restrictions in place, so data from these periods will not align with previous trends.”

Mitchelhill said the single serious crash at the site, in September 2023, involved a vehicle that failed to stop at the Princess St intersection and collided with another vehicle at Kitchener St.

“The data shows there have been no fatal or any multiple serious crashes at this intersection. As such, it is not accurate to describe it as a ‘black spot’ intersection.”

3 COMMENTS

  1. Outside the Square, the Kitchener Street/ Princess Street intersection is probably the busiest intersection in Martinborough, used by many heavy vehicles.
    Rumble strips or perhaps a couple of sleeping policemen on the Princess Street approaches to the intersection would certainly provide a low-cost but very tangible reminder to exercise caution. I say this against my own convenience, being a Princess Street resident who has been known to absentmindedly forget the ‘Stop’ sign stricture on occasion. I would have no objection to being reminded

  2. Just because there have been accidents there, does NOT mean there is necessarily anything wrong with the intersection. The accidents could be simply due to driver incompetence or error. I use that intersection all the time, and never had any issues. It ain’t broke, so it don’t fix it.

  3. It’s an intersection? With a STOP ✋ SIGN? More signs slower speed limit what a joke 🙄 just council wasting rate payers money 💰. Drivers are meant to know the RIGHT HAND RULE 🤔 ❓ and
    how to drive. Thought we were going away from the nanny state 😕 driving 🚗 policy 🙄.

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